Fairmount Indigo Line:
Transit-oriented Development,
Transit Equity, and Open Space

Southwest Boston CDC, Codman Square NDC, Dorchester Bay EDC and Mattapan CDC together comprise the Fairmount Collaborative, established in 2004 to advocate for additional stations and other improvements to the Fairmount Commuter Line that runs through Dorchester, Mattapan and Hyde Park. Since its formation the Fairmount Collaborative has worked with community partners to secure funds for four new stations on the Fairmount Line, the first of which went into construction in 2010. Also in 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency named the Fairmount Indigo Line one of five pilot sites selected by the federal Office of Sustainable Communities to encourage communities to take an integrated approach in making environmental, housing and transportation decisions.

The Fairmount Collaborative and its partners are focused on transit-oriented development, transit equity, and creation of publicly accessible open space along the Fairmount Line; areas of specific focus include:

The Fairmount CollaborativeTransit-oriented Development. The Fairmount Corridor includes vacant and/or underutilized parcels that could provide a number of transit-oriented development opportunities either for housing or neighborhood-appropriate economic development. Improvement will significantly increase access to jobs for Hyde Park residents along the line and can serve as the basis for a range of economic development activity. The picture above shows a preliminary rendering of Southwest Boston CDC’s proposal to replace three underutilized properties on Fairmount Ave. with new retail space and mixed-income apartments.

Lewis ChemicalThe former Lewis Chemical site in Hyde Park is another example of the kind of transit-oriented development opportunities that exist along the Fairmount Indigo Line. Located between the Fairmount Station and the Neponset River at the gateway to Hyde Park’s central business district, Lewis Chemical originally was the site of a leather manufacturing company from 1940 until the early 1960s. The Lewis Chemical Company operated at the property from 1963 until 1983 and was involved in the collection, transport, storage, and processing of hazardous waste. Numerous violations of Federal, State, and local laws regarding the safe handling, transport, storage, and treatment of hazardous materials were documented, along with complaints from local residents. Lewis Chemical was forced to terminate operations under a Court Order issued by the Department of Environmental Protection in 1983. The City of Boston foreclosed on the property in 2000 due to failure to pay back taxes.

The City of Boston has secured funds to conduct several rounds of environmental testing and initial remediation of site contamination that has been identified. Following extensive testing, in 2008 the City of Boston secured a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct additional testing and ‘spot remediation’ on the site. Results from the most recent round of testing were presented at a community meeting, June 23, 2009. For more information, see the City of Boston’s website, which includes information on Lewis Chemical.

Transit Equity. The Fairmount Collaborative and its community based partners comprising the Fairmount Coalition work to bring transit equity to residents in underserved neighborhoods along the Fairmount line. Along with organizing for construction of the four stations currently being added to the Fairmount line, the Coalition is also working on “Fair Fares for Fairmount”. This initiative seeks to abolish the fare structure that currently has riders boarding at Fairmount Station pay $4.25 compared to $1.70 at Morton Street. At our urging the Massachusetts Department of Transportation undertook a study in 2010 to consider changes to fare structures, including a proposal to make the fare $1.70 along the entire Fairmount Corridor.

The Fairmount Greenway TaskforceOpen Space creation. The Fairmount Greenway Taskforce is working to create a linear series of public open spaces along the Fairmount line. The Greenway Taskforce involves partnerships with community-based groups and open space advocates who share a common goal of improving and increasing open space for resident use. In 2010 the Taskforce advanced this work by commissioning initial planning work on the greenway concept and holding community meetings to obtain resident input on it. The firm Crosby, Schlessinger, and Smallridge (CSS) began concept planning for the greenway based on community input in spring 2010 and has completed preliminary design concept work. We expect that plan to be released in spring/summer 2011, followed by further outreach to residents to identify initial potential greenway sites.